The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced today three athletes as selected to represent Team GB in taekwondo at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The athletes selected today have won medals at Olympic, World and European Championships, and will be aiming to challenge for Olympic medals at the ExCel Arena in London Docklands this summer.
The selected athletes are:
Jade Jones, women’s -57kg
Martin Stamper, men’s -68kg
Sarah Stevenson, women’s -67kg
Sarah Stevenson, who claimed a memorable bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, is the most experienced member of the team and will be attending her fourth Olympics Games. The Doncaster-born athlete is the current reigning World Champion having regained her crown in South Korea last year. Stevenson’s dedication and commitment to taekwondo was recognised earlier this year when she received an MBE for her services to the sport.
Eight-time British Champion Martin Stamper will be looking to build on an extremely successful 2011 where he was named the Olympic Athlete of the Year for taekwondo, having won three gold medals - at the US, German and British Opens - a silver medal at the French Open, and World Championship bronze. His record of 27 wins from 29 fights last year will give him confidence ahead of what will be his first Olympic Games.
Welsh-born Olympic debutant Jade Jones is the youngest member of the team. She is the current reigning Youth Olympic Champion after becoming the very first Team GB athlete to claim a Youth Olympic title at Singapore in 2010. Jones made the step up to senior level by winning 2010 European Championships bronze in St Petersburg before claiming the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships.
The addition of the taekwondo athletes brings the total number of athletes officially selected to Team GB for London 2012 to 131 across thirteen sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton boxing, canoe slalom, fencing, hockey, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming, taekwondo and table tennis.
The athletes were formally nominated to the BOA for selection to Team GB by GB Taekwondo, the National Governing Body for taekwondo in the UK.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“With just 56 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, I am delighted to welcome these three taekwondo athletes as members of Team GB.
“British taekwondo athletes have made outstanding progress in international competition during the past four years, since Sarah Stevenson’s memorable bronze medal at the last Olympics in Beijing. All three athletes won medals at the 2011 World Championships and will be aiming to produce their best performances again on home soil this summer.
“As a four-time Olympian Sarah Stevenson brings a wealth of experience to Team GB alongside Olympic debutants Martin Stamper and current Youth Olympic Champion Jade Jones, whose exciting potential bodes very well for the future of British taekwondo.”
“With the full support of the home crowd behind them, I am sure they will deliver inspirational performances to make the nation proud.”
Team GB Taekwondo Team Leader Gary Hall said:
"I have always stated we have committed as a team to be the best prepared team at London 2012 and we are still on track to do that. No one can guarantee results but these guys will be ready to perform and there will have been no stone left unturned in the pursuit of excellence for these Olympic Games.
"Martin has had some great results over the last year and started to hit form with his bronze at the European Championships. He has been very professional for a number of years now and the fruits of that are coming out. He has taken all the scalps, but more importantly he has progressed as an athlete, and I know he will do everything in his power to maximise his opportunity in London.
“Sarah is simply world class in every department. Her pedigree is unquestionable she will be a significant threat in London. She is the queen of taekwondo in Britain and has been for many years. There is no accolade I could push her way that would do her justice.
“Jade has done a superb job. She didn't get the results she wanted at the European Championships recently but still picked up a bronze and she has medalled in everything else. She is the current Youth Olympic Champion and in London she will be going for the Olympic senior title.”
Martin Stamper said:
"The support is going to be amazing. Even at the European Championships in Manchester recently, the atmosphere was crazy. I looked at the crowd celebrating after winning my second round fight and there must have been about a thousand people on their feet screaming. That was in a smaller arena with a lot less people than will be watching in London, so I can't imagine what the Olympics is going to be like.
“If I fight my own game and fight to the best of my potential then I can achieve anything. I don't want to put pressure on myself but I could get gold if I have four fights at my best and things go my way. It could happen."
Sarah Stevenson said:
"This will be my fourth Olympics and me and the sport have come a long way since my first Games. When I went to Sydney in 2000, I was only 17 and hardly anyone knew what taekwondo was. But that's all changed and I don't even think you can class it as a so-called minority sport anymore.
"I might have been the first person to go to an Olympics and win at the Worlds, but more players are winning so much these days and that will kind of take the pressure off me in London.
"If I win gold that will top everything I have ever achieved. But that might not happen because that's the way sport is. Just because you are the best doesn't mean you are going to win, but of course I will try like mad to win gold.”
Jade Jones said:
"I'm buzzing. I had a big disappointment at the European Championships when I didn't win a gold, but I think it was a blessing in disguise. I have things to work on now and make sure I am 100 percent right for the Olympics.
"I got hooked on the Olympics after watching Beijing in 2008, and I remember thinking I wanted to be there and part of it. Now I will be, and that’s an incredible feeling for me.
"I try and imagine what it's going to be like when I go out for my first fight, but I don’t think I can. I just can't wait for it to begin now. Friends and family have got their tickets so they're excited by the thought of coming to watch me."